MINUTES of ECR Ramblers’ Committee meeting 18/10/2021

MINUTES of ECR Ramblers’ Committee meeting 18/10/2021

Meeting held at the Chair’s house

Start time 1.30pm

End time approx 4.15


Jane Gay – chair

Dave Barraclough – footpath committee chair (via zoom)

Kathryn Carty – secretary (via zoom)

Sue Munslow – membership secretary

Colin Finlayson – treasurer

Keith Anderson – lost ways

Melanie Davy

  1. Apologies

Maggie Swindells

Nigel Hersee had been invited along as he has expressed an interest in taking over as secretary but he is ill with Covid 19.

  • Minutes of last meeting

These were approved subject to the Committee agreeing that approval had been given at the last meeting to donating £500 to South Cheshire group for a bridge improvement project.  There were no other matters arising.

  • Matters arising from last meeting
  • Long walks weekend coordinator – John Galligan had agreed to do this and had attended the recent walks coordinators’ meeting.
  • Nigel Hersee has kindly expressed interest in taking over the secretary’s role after November’s AGM.  He will be invited along to the next committee meeting.  Kathryn will chat to him at the AGM and will provide him with any useful information.  She had already emailed him of her intention to do this.
  • The length of service on the committee was discussed.  There is effectively a one year rule as members are re-elected annually.  Some organisations have three year rules but there are pros and cons relating to this.  It was decided just to retain the one year rule.
  • The members discussed their willingness to stand on the committee next year.  It was important that officers didn’t all leave at the same time.  Jane said the Chair role whilst not difficult was extremely time consuming.  She wanted to get on board a vice chair who can be on the committee alongside Jane next year learning the job for when Jane resigns.  Jane is prepared to stand again as Chair for another year. Colin is willing to stand as treasurer for the next two, by which time he will have served ten years in that position.  It is important not to lose treasurer and chair at the same time.  Dave Barraclough will cease to be footpath committee chair at the AGM in November.  He agrees with Jane that a chair’s role is very time consuming.  Central office is increasingly holding meetings which take up Jane’s time and so any new chair would not be expected to conduct Area work in addition to Group work.  Dave doesn’t think it necessary for his

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replacement to attend the general committee meetings though it would be nice if the new chair of the footpath committee opted to do so. Sue, Melanie and Keith are willing to continue on the committee.  We are still looking for two new committee members.  The footpath committee also needs members as Colin and Dave have stood down. Tony Battilana circulated all FP inspectors to this effect and got one positive response from Sarah Shannon.  Perhaps it would be worth sending a similar notification round to all membership with the AGM notice.  It could be added to the flyer to request walk leaders.

  • Publicity.  A meeting has been held about facebook.  People don’t buy local papers and nobody has stepped forward to replace Colin Park.  However Jennefer Mellor has offered to be chief administrator for promotion via facebook along with Maggie Swindells and Michael Murphy.  This has already generated some results.  Jennefer will be invited to attend the committee meetings.
  • Teresa Marshall will start to put walks onto the national website.
  • Walks survey and feedback.  Lots of information has been supplied.  We could put the questionnaire key points on the website.  The walk leader coordinators’ meeting was very useful and provided a forum for people to air their views.  Roger was very positive about sorting out the length of walks / different grades on the website.  He has also said that if a leader needs to cancel a walk at the last minute then they need to just enter this on the website.  Roger is then alerted.  Perhaps people need reminding to check a walk is still running by going on the website that morning before setting off.
  • The task of sorting out the projects and maintenance coordinator job description still needs doing.  Dave will deal with this if possible before the AGM. Brian Richardson has restarted his project efforts with vigour.
  • Andy Davies is still preparing walk stats.  These will need to be provided for the AGM.
  • It was agreed that Kathryn will sort out 20 copies of all the necessary paperwork to take along to the AGM so that attendees can refer to them.  She has a list of what to include.  She will have to check out how to deal with “motions”.
  •  Walk programme

Jane had sent out copious notes.  Andy is going to run a medium walk on a Monday and see how this goes.  The medium will no longer clash with the Tuesday / Wednesday short and long.  These will continue to be alternated.  There is only one short mid week walk.  Dave B feels that numbers on short walks are too high but Dave C, the short walk coordinator, has spoken with short walkers and they don’t feel that this is a problem, and enjoy the social group which has been formed.

  • Reports from officers.

Chair’s report includes the following

10th of July met with Colin to confirm the budget and to confirm the fact that

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we were prepared to support South Cheshire and Nicola Swinnerton as the

new PROW by donating £500 towards the cost of a bridge repair. The bridge will have a plaque on it to recognise this fact. Hopefully this

will encourage South Cheshire to be more proactive as far as footpath maintenance is concerned.

19th of July Attended a Northwest cluster meeting (there are five clusters in the country). From this learned that professional recruiters are being employed and having stalls at shows etcetera, there seems to be some “walk your way”  bespoke materials being produced, Well-being

walks were being recommended, these have to be less than 90 minutes, and new handbooks are being produced for Areas.

As a result of our last set of minutes Jennie Mellor stepped forward and said she would be prepared to help with Facebook. I had also been talking to Michael Murphy along with Andy Davies about improving our Facebook presence. Suggest that Facebook will become our way of communicating our activities with the general public and hence remove the need for a

publicity officer.

20th July Facebook meeting with Louise, Michael Murphy’s daughter. There were lots of ideas suggested as to how we could improve our Facebook page. We were told that 14 likes and four comments as well as one shared is a very good response. We were advised to look at other groups and their pages and Louise said she would be available via email to help out. The content

from the Ambleside weekend was praised and we were hoping to get photos et cetera from social events when they start up again. Jennie has made lots of suggestions and is happy to be our chief administrator. At times she has been challenged by the idiosyncrasies of Facebook as have Maggie and I.

27th July Planning AGMs A Ramblers cluster meeting. This was mainly about organising Area AGMs and not a great deal gained. There is certainly pressure for the Area to be very active but there is no desire for this to happen amongst our three groups.

28th July meeting Steve Butterfield, Area Secretary.  We are starting to look at what Rambler groups actually exist in Cheshire East and Steve has done lots of investigation. I plan to have a meeting with him and will circulate the findings later. Anybody who is interested in this aspect then please just contact me and I will forward the information Steve has sent to me.

2nd August Facebook meeting.There was lots of discussion at this meeting. Jennie has produced a sheet of notes which identify the changes we have made to some of the basics and other actions. I will contact Jennie to discuss this with her.

13th of September “recruiting the right volunteers”. Zoom meeting with Head Office. I can circulate the information  to anybody interested. Again I didn’t really feel I learnt anything.

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15th of September meeting with Maggie re survey results leading to the circulation of the key points extracted from the data, together with a set of

comments on the data and some suggested outcomes. How we now inform the membership of this is a topic for discussion.

24th of September walk coordinators meeting. This was a very successful worthwhile meeting. It was good that all the coordinators got to meet one another. I stressed what an excellent group we are and what a varied programme we put on. I have circulated the notes made

at this meeting to the committee. Again, how we inform the membership of this meeting is a topic for discussion.

Re the Alan Catherall work, the footpath has been completed and the tenant farmer decided he did not want a permissive path, but this was in addition to the original work. Brian has led a walk in the area which took in this footpath as well as the plaques. I think we need to commemorate the completion of this path but Lynda is not yet ready to take part in anything formal. I’m

suggesting we put this on hold until the Spring. The total amount raised from donations was £595. The total cost was £409.97 leaving a balance of £185.03. I will discuss with Lynda what she would like to do with this balance. One suggestion is that we split it and divide it between the

two charities which were identified at Alan’s funeral.

Colin Finlayson’s verbal treasurer’s report

The group had a balance of £7453 at the end of September 2021.  There is a deadline date for submission of the group’s accounts to the Area.  The accounts have been prepared and have been signed off by Ken Hobbs and the deadline will be met.  £727 will fund the trial of new way marks.  For some reason PROW didn’t want to trial the plastic waymarks with elongated holes through which to feed plastic ties enabling them to be attached to metal kissing gates as it was impossible to do this with adhesive ones.  ECR will trial both the adhesive and plastic ones with slots.

Dave Barraclough’s footpath chair’s report

The Consultative Meeting was largely routine business. We ‘met’ by Zoom the new Enforcement Officer EFOOTPATH COMMITTEE REPORT TO THE ECR COMMITTEE MEETING – 18th Oct 2021

There has been 1 Cheshire East PROW Consultative Meeting (by Zoom) and 1 Footpath Committee. Following the previously reported increased use by PROW of the ECR Footpath Database, we were asked to give a short presentation of the Footpath Database to the meeting, This includes representatives from other ‘User Groups’ across Cheshire East. This was delivered by Neil Collie and myself and seemed to be well received.

The Footpath Committee Meeting’s main business was to review the completion of the 2021 footpath inspections, where our 42 inspectors have again fully inspected  all 1295 footpaths in our area. The level of ‘poor’ paths remain low at about 7%. We continue to work with PROW to solve the key

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problem paths. We expect to be able to organise the 2022 inspections withoutdisruption – but new offers of Footpath Inspectors are always welcome.

It was decided to revise guidance to those inspectors who offer to help with path maintenance during their inspections. We will be emphasising that vegetation cutting back and waymark/fingerpost repairs are welcome but we are not authorised to carry out routine stile repairs. We plan to deliver this guidance at a Footpath Inspectors Meeting in Spring 2022. This will probably reinstate the previous plan of a short walk followed by a meeting, with light refreshments at Macclesfield Tennis Club. 

After some delay, PROW have agreed to our proposal for ECR to supply and fund some trial waymarks over a 1 year period. We are asking the ECR Treasurer to approve the expenditure of about £750 for the trial. This cost was approved by Central Office some time ago. PROW have favoured a trial of adhesive waymarks but are less keen to try the conventional plastic waymarks with slots that allow the use of cable ties.

Two Footpath Committee members are standing down – Colin Finlayson and Dave Barraclough. We are already asking for volunteers from the list of Footpath Inspectors and any remaining vacancy will request offers from the full membership at the ECR AGM. 

          Sue Munslow’s membership secretary’s report

In January 2021 it was reported that we had 571 members, the highest number for some years.  In previous years it had been in the 560s and decreasing slowly.

Instead of the gradual drop we now have stable numbers overall.  This is probably a reflection of the general increase in interest in walking during this last year.  The trend has continued and there are currently 585 members.

The number of members leaving the group remains fairly stable.  It seems that it is often the newest members who leave.  Perhaps they join with good intentions and then never get started walking.

Maggie Swindells’ social secretary’s report

The two history walks planned for September, one with Judith Wilshaw in Stockport on Thursday 2 September and a Wincle History Walk, led by Rodney Hughes, on Friday 17 September were both well attended and very enjoyable. I’ve been asked to arrange more walks with a history focus and Judith has agreed to do two in the spring/early summer next year.

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Andy Davies and Melanie Davy organised a very successful weekend away in Ambleside. Thanks to both of them, and the walk leaders who led walks, for the time they committed to making the event such a success.

Andy Davies has organised an Indian meal in October which I hope was success!

Martin James, Countryside Ranger at Teggs Nose, has agreed to do some joint walks with us next spring/summer when he has caught up with work delayed due to Covid restrictions. I have also written to Robinsons Brewery to see if we can arrange a tour there after Christmas.

I believe coach trips are slightly restricted due to the numbers who can be seated at this time but again I’ll follow that up when I get back to see if we can reorganise the Settle coach trip and the one to Church Stretton which we postponed this year. Ann Thompson is happy to do the first and Gina Thompson and I will do the second.

A Christmas Carol Walk led by Jenny Bordoli is in the diary for the first Saturday in December. Hopefully the Christmas Carol Concert at Nether Alderley, which usually takes place on same day, will take place this year.

Two provisional bookings have been made for Christmas meals. Given Covid restrictions at the time of booking we now need to secure the arrangements with the venues before we advertise costs, etc. I will follow this up when I get home.

Melanie and Lorraine have kindly agreed to lead Keith’s Sherry Walk on the 1st January 2022.

Thanks again to everyone who makes a contribution to the ECR Social Calendar; we couldn’t do it without you all.

As always ideas for events are warmly welcomed!

Keith – lost ways

Keith provided a detailed report of a Don’t Lose your Way meeting held on 22 September.  A brief report will be compiled for the AGM.  He has another meeting tomorrow.  There are quite a number of difficulties and he thinks it may gradually be put on a back burner but more information will be provided later.

  •  Preparation for AGM on 20 November

Kathryn will sort out the notification letter, the matter of inviting motions, and any other relevant documentation.

It was agreed that she would get 20 copies of the documents collated ready for attendees at the AGM. 

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These will briefly include

AGM 2020 minutes

AGM agenda for 2021

Chair report (Jane Gay)

Walk stats for year

Footpath project team report if applicable (Brian Richardson – Jane will discuss with him)

Membership secretary report (Sue Munslow)

Social and events secretary report (Maggie Swindells)

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Treasurer’s report (Colin Finlayson)

Lost Ways progress (Keith Anderson)

Sheet to record list of attendees will also be provided.

It was agreed that tea and cakes will be served after the AGM.  Kathryn for one will bake!


  1. Dave to get Project Team Coordinator job description agreed with Brian Richardson
  2. Officer reports to be prepared asap, to Kathryn by 26 October.
  3. Kathryn to make sure all preparations are made timely for AGM.
  4. Jane to speak to Nigel and Jennie about joining the Committee.
  5. Jane to contact Brian re making a presentation at the AGM.
  6. The Committee agreed to take along refreshments for after the AGM.

Kathryn Carty

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